Since The 1980s Japanese Farmers Have Been Growing What Peculiar Crop?
Answer: Square Watermelons
Since the 1980s, Japanese farmers from the island of Shikoku have been growing some rather strange looking watermelons. In a bid to capitalize on novelty (due to the Japanese love of efficient storage and the small size of Japanese refrigerators), the farmers began growing watermelons in sturdy tempered glass cubes to make the previously round and inefficient melon into an easily stacked and stored cube.
How efficiently stored? The glass molds used to grow the melons are sized just right such that the resulting melon is perfectly sized for the standard shelf spacing of Japanese refrigerators. Such preternatural perfection comes at a steep price, however, and the carefully formed melons sell for 2-3 times more than a regular watermelon.
Ironically, the process of cubing the watermelons (and of harvesting them at just the right time to maximize their symmetry and good looks) yields a watermelon that is too young and unripened to provide any of the bright pink and juicy melon flesh you’d expect. As such, the watermelons have become status symbols among wealthy shoppers in major cities like Tokyo and are given as gifts and used as decoration. When it comes time for a proper fruit salad, a rounder and more natural looking watermelon is in order.